Each of the last eight years, if projections for 2022 hold, has been hotter than any year prior to 2015, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a report on Sunday as the COP27 UN Climate Summit opened in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
"As COP27 gets underway, our planet is sending a distress signal," said UN chief Antonio Guterres, describing the report as "a chronicle of climate chaos."
Earth has warmed more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, with about half of that increase occurring in the past 30 years, the report shows.
According to WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas, the 1.5 degree warming target of the Paris climate agreement is unlikely to be reached given the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Rising sea levels
Driven by melting ice sheets and glaciers, the pace of sea level rise has doubled in the past 30 years, threatening marine species and tens of millions of people in low-lying coastal areas, the United Nations' weather agency said.
According to the WMO report, since the decade began, seas are rising at 5 millimeters a year compared to 2.1 millimeters in the 1990s.
Surface water in the oceans also hit record high temperatures in 2021, warming especially fast during the past 20 years.
Some 90% of the heat trapped on Earth goes into the oceans and the upper 2,000 meters (6561 feet) of the ocean is getting warmer faster.
That ocean heat "will continue to warm in the future — a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial time scales," the report said.
Cascade of disasters
In 2022, a wave of extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change devastated communities around the world.
A two-month heatwave in South Asia in March and April that bore the unmistakable fingerprint of man-made warming was followed by floods in Pakistan, inundating a third of the country. At least 1,700 people died and 8 million were displaced.
In East Africa, rainfall has been below average in four consecutive wet seasons, the longest in 40 years, with 2022 set to deepen the drought.
China saw the longest and most intense heatwave on record and the second-driest summer.
Falling water levels disrupted or threatened commercial river traffic on the Yangtze River in China, the Mississippi River in the US and several major inland waterways in Europe.
dh/rs (AP, AFP)